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It is unusual for a mental health trust to record four suicides on its inpatient wards within one year.

Yet that is what happened at Devon Partnership Trust between September 2019 and August 2020.

Three of the deaths caught the eye of the Care Quality Commission, which subsequently warned the trust about its safety procedures.

The fourth death, revealed by HSJ, had similar themes to the other three. 

When such deaths occur, the most important thing is to understand how they happened and to put in place any learnings to protect future patients.

But it took DPT 11 and 10 months to investigate the first two deaths that occurred, and six months to investigate the third.

The deaths – all caused by ligatures – also occurred amid a delay to the trust’s anti-ligature programme, due to problems with the technology.

This provides an unfortunate backdrop to the four incidents.

The trust’s nursing director Chris Burford said the trust has taken several learnings from the deaths, such as changes to its observation of patients. The much-needed ligature programme finally gets under way next month.

But as Mr Burford acknowledged in an interview with HSJ: “No death is acceptable on an inpatient ward”. 

Pressure mounts in Leeds

One of the major acute trusts in England is to postpone much of its elective surgery as covid pressures mount.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust says it has entered its surge capacity, seeing pressures exceeding the peak in April, with worse still to come.

It has said only essential operations will being going ahead in most cases, and it is closing theatres to boost critical care capacity.

The news at Leeds, first reported by HSJ, comes amid a number of trusts in Yorkshire postponing some or all of their elective surgery.